Faces of Agora

And so new adventures come along in life. Agora Partnerships, a business accelerator in Latin America, has taken me and my team on the latest adventure in 2016, beginning in Nicaragua for training to prepare to consult with early and growing businesses throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

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One of the most rewarding parts of joining Agora has been the opportunity to work with passionate, experienced, and intelligent consultants such as Claudia, Marc, Pras, Juan José, and Susana (plus a friend) below from right to left.

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Su Otero, one of the wonderful consultants on the 2016 Agora consulting team, is based in Bogota, Colombia. With a background in finance in corporate America, Su is our in-house finance guru. During the Accelerator she’s supporting companies such as Florex, a bio-based cleaning product company in Costa Rica, and Baby Faves, an organic baby food company in Colombia.

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Managua, one of Agora’s main office locations, is where we based during training. Although it may not be the first stop on most tourist itineraries in Central America, we loved it! The food, access to gorgeous weekend beaches and volcano hikes, dancing, and music scene in the city were fantastic!

 

Marc Brugulat, a 2016 Agora consultant, based in Managua, is putting to use his economics background with specialization in microfinance, and experiences with the IDB in Haiti and SNV in Nicaragua. During the Accelerator Marc is consulting with 4 companies, such as Tecnatrop, an agricultural tool manufacturer in Peru, and Chureca Chic, a fair trade women’s fashion artisan collective and environmental group in Nicaragua.DSC_0324

 

Along with training and travels during our time in Nicaragua, our team had the chance to facilitate a business model design workshop at INCAE, the top business school in Latin America, with Nicaraguan entrepreneurs in partnership with Thriive.

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Juan José Roesel Reniz, 2016 Agora consultant based in Mexico City, brings an array of experiences from a career as a professional musician to a mentor with Endeavor Colombia and Fellow at the Center for Democracy and Development. Juan José is working with fast growing companies such as Colab.re in Brazil, a civic engagement platform for citizens and governments to improve lives in cities, and Estufa Doña Dora, a clean cookstove manufacturer in Guatemala.

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Ometepe, an island with twin volcanoes on Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America and the 19th largest in the world. After a 3 hour bus ride, a 1 hour ferry took us across to the volcanic island where we would settle in for a hike to the top of the right-most volcano, Maderas at 1394m (4,500 ft) on one of our team weekend escapes.

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Claudia Morales (in blue), 2016 Agora consultant based in Mexico City, is consulting with companies such as cooperative fishing companies in Mexico and Korbata, a traditional artisan group producing designer-style ties in Guatemala. Claus brings years of experiences in environmental conservation with the Nature Conservancy and entrepreneurship organizations in Tunisia, among others.

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The hike up Volcano Maderas was one of great views, steep inclines, and a lot of mud and clouds on the upper half. We managed to hike to the peak at 1,394m within 4 hours, a wildly effective team building experience.

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Pras Krishnan, 2016 Agora consultant based in Bogota, is consulting with companies such as Viogaz, a leading biogas company in Central America, and Laboratoria, a company training and placing women from low-income communities in tech jobs in Latin America. Pras is a solar engineer and entrepreneur who has worked for major solar companies around the world and launched his own efficient battery company.

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Crazy beautiful sunsets were not to be found in Managua, but became the norm on our weekend travels, as was true in Ometepe.

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And another weekend with the team took us to San Juan del Sur, a Pacific beach town in Southwest Nicaragua.

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In the last of six weeks in Nicaragua came the Agora Entrepreneur Retreat in the historic town of Granada.

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Agora Accelerator leaders, Gio, Erin, and Anastasiya, ran the Agora consultant training. After consulting with companies in last year’s Accelerator, they not only bring a wide range of professional experiences but also a deep understanding of the challenges early stage businesses face when growing and preparing for outside capital.

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The 25 Agora Accelerator 2016 companies came together with the consulting team and Agora operations staff for 5 days of workshops, panels, investor meetings, and networking. Each consultant had a chance to work with their entrepreneurs and to facilitate sessions during the retreat, including the Capital Needs Assessment workshop pictured below.

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Agora’s Accelerator is now in its sixth year. Having provided consulting services to more than 125 companies in this time, Agora has helped companies raise more than $36 million in outside capital. The Agora team is spread out between 5 countries, and it was wonderful to be together in Nicaragua for the retreat.

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Following the retreat, the team fit in one final beach weekend before departing for four months of consulting with our companies. Playa Popoyo = surfing, seafood, and sunsets.

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